Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 35

THE PRO BONO EFFECT
The first indication that something was amiss came in early 2013, when
Parcel One Phase One Associates, which owned the building, announced
that it would not renew its Section 8 contract, forcing residents to secure
other forms of housing assistance. The action created a disruptive and
disorienting dilemma for many of the building's residents.
"After that, a lot of work had to be done on the tenants' part to switch out
to housing vouchers," says Caroline Hennessy, a tenant services specialist
with Housing Counseling Services, Inc. and an advocate for Museum
Square residents. "Residents had to go to the housing authority, fill out
all kinds of forms, and provide information, unsure if they would even
be able to stay; that was a period when a lot of people moved."
Following the end of the Section 8 contract and the new threat of
demolition, the Museum Square Tenants Association rallied into action.
They learned about the District's TOPA, giving tenants the first right to
purchase the property in which they reside. In 2014 the residents were
notified that they could purchase the building for a staggering $250
million, a valuation far higher than the city's assessment of $36 million.

"I thought, 'who do they think they'll get that money from? We couldn't
afford that,'" says Watson. "They knew we didn't have that type of money
and thought we'd leave."
The notice only served to kick off a major effort among the tenants to
save their homes. "We just had to get the right people to work with us,
and [they] took it from there," Watson adds.
Arnold & Porter took on the case, with Biles leading the charge. The
team of pro bono attorneys from the firm collaborated closely with legal
services organizations that had been assisting Museum Square residents,
including the Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center, the Housing
Counseling Services, and the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.
The firm sued Parcel One Phase One Associates on behalf of the tenants
and won twice. In both rulings, the judges agreed that the inflated price
was a tactic to drive out residents. "It was a big blessing," Watson recalls
of the last ruling in 2016. "We got them twice, and the thought was,
'what's next?'"

"

I didn't have an epiphany
to do this; I just went to work.
I believe in doing pro bono
work because it's the right
thing to do.
BLAKE BILES

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019

*

WASHINGTON LAWYER 35



Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019

Digital Extras
Your Voice
From Our President
Practice Management
Calendar of Events
Going Above and Beyond feature
On Safer Ground feature
Casa Ruby Profile
Pro Bono Effect
Member Spotlight
Worth Reading
Media Bytes
Attorney Briefs
Ask the Ethics Experts
Disciplinary Summaries
Community & Connections
Last Word
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 1
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 2
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Digital Extras
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Your Voice
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - From Our President
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 7
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Practice Management
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 9
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Calendar of Events
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 11
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Going Above and Beyond feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 13
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 14
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 15
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 16
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 17
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - On Safer Ground feature
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 19
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 20
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 21
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 22
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 23
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 24
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 25
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Casa Ruby Profile
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 27
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 28
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 29
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 30
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 31
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Pro Bono Effect
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 33
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 34
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 35
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 36
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Member Spotlight
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 38
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 39
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Worth Reading
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 41
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Media Bytes
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Attorney Briefs
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Disciplinary Summaries
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Community & Connections
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 46
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - 47
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Last Word
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover3
Washington Lawyer - November/December 2019 - Cover4
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